HARRISONBURG — Ethan Ratke wasn’t feeling the pressure.
With the game on the line in the final seconds, the James Madison University redshirt freshman kicker stepped up and delivered a 46-yard field goal Friday night to give JMU a 31-28 win over Weber State in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals.
“We practice that every Thursday,” Ratke said. “We do a two-minute drill. And I knew I wasn’t really thinking anything. I just trusted my holder, my snapper and my line to basically do most of the work for me. And I just had to put it in. So it wasn’t much pressure.”
Ratke said the celebration that ensued afterward was “like an out-of-body experience.”
It was the third field goal of the game for Ratke, who had also connected from 35 yards and 40 yards. The 46-yard field goal was a career-long field goal for Ratke and also set a JMU playoff record.
Ratke said it was a good feeling to see the game-winner go through the uprights.
“I’ve been kicking for five years, and I’ve never hit a game-winner before,” Ratke said. This is what I’ve worked for and I knew I had it.”
Not only did Ratke have confidence that he would make it, his teammates had plenty of confidence in him as well.
“Thank God for Ethan Ratke,” JMU redshirt senior Terrence Alls said. “I knew he was going to make it. Every Thursday in practice we do a two-minute drill and he practices from different places on the field and he makes ’em. So that’s why everybody’s so confident. Once we saw it was a good snap we just knew (the kick) was right down the middle.”
Ratke replaced junior kicker and 2015 Millbrook graduate Tyler Gray earlier this season after Gray suffered an injury. Ratke has made 11 field goals in 14 attempts. He is also 24-for-25 in extra points attempts this season.
JMU redshirt senior offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie said seeing the ball go through the goalposts was a great feeling.
“That was nothing but excitement seeing that going through the goalposts, because you know when you see that you’re seeing yourself going through to the next round,” Stinnie said. “You see your season not being done yet. So that’s just a very special moment.”